Number of drug shortages hits 23-year high

(NewsNation) — The first quarter of 2024 recorded the country’s highest-ever number of ongoing drug shortages, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists data shows.

A total of 323 drugs — including life-saving medicines like oxytocin, Rho(D) immune globulin and chemotherapy — were in a deficit during the first three months of the year.

The January-March numbers were the highest number of shortages recorded since the ASHP began recording them in 2001.

The University of Utah Drug Information Service collects data from pharmacists nationwide and compiles them into statistics on the ASHP’s website.

It’s important to note UUDIS has a looser definition of drug shortage than government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration.

A shortage by UUDIS standards occurs when there’s “a supply issue that affects how the pharmacy prepares or dispenses a drug product or influences patient care when prescribers must use an alternate agent.”

Manufacturers reported issues with manufacturing (12%) and supply chain problems (14%) as the most common causes of shortages. Around 60% of respondents chose “unknown” or did not provide an answer.

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